Monday, April 30, 2012

Weekend Shenanigans: Palaces & Hipster Hangouts

Finally a free weekend in India! On my fifth trip to the country I committed to exploring Delhi beyond the tourist spots and getting OUT of the city for at least one full day. Friday night I caught up with my friend Aneesha and her colleague Surabi and ventured into Hauz Khas, the artsy, hipster, designer district in South Delhi. Aneesha suggested Tibetan food which I must say I knew little about, in my head I thought that I would clearly need to eat again as I pictured some highly evolved monk's diet arriving to the table. Boy was I wrong!!! Yeti had an endless menu, a dope bar, and some weird hiking gone wrong movie playing on the flat screens. Beyond the last detail the food was phenomenal. There are tons of after-dinner haunts in India's version of SoHo, we opted for Amour a rooftop patio lounge with great drinks and desserts. After indulging on a chocolate lava cake and a bailey's martini I thought "If this is Delhi Belly I'll have it every time!" After drinks the girls were a bit worn out, but jetlag on my side. We'd found a poster for a reggae/dubstep night in nearby Sajat market and I headed there. Zook, the nightclub was dope it definitely is for the non-mainstream crowd introducing me to "reggae rajahs" and Indian men with Jamaican accents. DJ's came in from the UK and France and there's a wall of hip-hop/alternative megastars that greets you at the door. I ended up staying until the place closed with a newly acquired friend from Cameroon by way of Germany (more on this in another post, wink wink).

Saturday began with "Zangoora" a mixed, medium musical showing at "Kingdom of Dreams", India's version of Broadway. It was sensory overload in every good sense of the phrase. The dances and music, especially the Punjabi inspired rhythms were phenomenal. Beyond that there was an interesting amount of mixed theatre and film being used, paired with the fact that all the songs were lip-synced (with fervor though!) it amounted to an entertaining if not weird experience at some points:) That evening we ventured out to Agni, the nightclub/restaurant at The Park New Delhi Boutique Hotel. This is where Delhi's hip fashionistas come to play. The DJ's plays a mix of hip hop, pop, electronic, and Indian tunes - I would put these dudes on tour any day. The Park also has a poolside bar called "Aqua" where you can do hookah and have cocktails as well. Aneesha and I outdid ourselves quickly befriending a group of Punjabi fellas, a hot British guy, and the DJ's too. If you're ever in Delhi on a Saturday night - get here! Be mindful, the party doesn't really get started until about 11:30PM and they can be a little picky at the door so have some rupees ready.
Opening Scene @ Zangoora

Leaving the club at 5:30AM you wouldn't have known that we were departing at 6 for Jaipur. But alas, I committed to getting out of the city so we quickly showered and hopped in our taxi for the day. A driver and car cost about 4,000 rupees (less than 100 bucks!) and gets you a decent, comfortable sedan and efficient service (w/ a few prods now and then). We headed out closer to 7am and reached Jaipur at about 11.Our first stop was the Amber Fort where we were greeted by some amazingly ornate elephants. Apparently there is an elephant "lodge" of sorts near the fort where the cities elephants are kept, we arrived at the beginning of their workday.

The driver insisted that we ride the elephant to the top of the fort, however elephants move just about as fast as a giant snail and at 102 degrees, my friend and I quickly opted out. We drove around the back of the palace and were amazed by even the scenery itself. Jaipur, also known as the "pink city", is surrounded by an amazing landscape of mountains, lakes, and beautiful earth tones. The state of Rajasthan translates to place of the kings and is dotted with the palaces and forts of India's pre-colonial empires.

Aneesha and I at the entrance to Amber Fort
The fort was AMAZING! I found myself daydreaming about life in a palace filled with jeweled inset walls, beautiful arches, and 3 public "entertainment" spaces. Here are some of my fave photos from the fort.

One could easily spend a full day exploring the nooks and crannies of the fort but with long work days ahead of us, Aneesha and I headed into "downtown" Jaipur to visit vegetarian/vegan hangout "LMB". A moonlighting "meatatarian" I was skeptical at first. A shopkeeper at the fort insisted we eat at the onsite restaurant for "1600 rupees" only (cue WTF face) but I went with Aneesha's advice and was not dissapointed. The place has a really chill vibe, there's a formal sit down restaurant side where we ate and a sweets and snacks shop that has an eggless bakery. Rajasthani cuisine is flavor-packed, cooked with all sorts of oils and gravies, these are not salad veggies. We went for the kidney beans, rice, mushrooms, peas, and gravy along with some mint naan. I think I just got hungry thinking about this. The service was excellent, they even accommodated my random craving for Atlanta style sweet tea!
Bellies full, we explored the surrounding market and I purchased more bangles than I care to admit here! We even caught a glimpse of the Hawa Mahal "Palace of the Breezes" where the special design allows wind to move through in specific patterns.

I've got a few more days left here until I takeoff for London. Happy Monday Good People!!!

Tanning is Proof of Deep Skin Damage (So They Say)

I could probably post a million articles about standards of beauty and the mis-representation of brown people but instead I'll leave you with this: "Tanning is Proof of DEEP Skin Damage" ad I saw yesterday on the Delhi Metro in India. While we know that UV rays are indeed damaging, something about this picture tells me that this "lightenening and fair even-ning cream" has nothing to do with beach bathers.

I'm not singling India out for it's preference for fair skin, I live in Mexico and the same holds true. At least in India advertisements feature brown people while in Mexico there are more ads featuring blue-eyed, blond hair people than anything else.  We continue to make firestorms about every perceived "rascist" ad that hits the blogosphere but the fact still remains that health and beauty companies make billions of dollars in profit by reminding us that "white (or the closest you can get to it) is right).

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Post-Dating Friendships...Are They Worth It?

It’s actually OK to say – no, let’s not be friends or "I'm not here for your personal friend-tertainment".

I just had an epiphany…regardless of what you think, me being your friend post-fling does not somehow make me an emotionally superior being. In real life it means I’ve now signed up to have awkward turtle moments for an unspecified period time which usually means up until one of us gets a significant other who is not having that ish!

I’m sure many of you have had these moments… the “I shouldn’t have sent that text in my drunken stupor”, “who is this new chick/fella posing in his/her FB profile”, or my personal fave “do we kiss or otherwise if the moment feels right after that we’re just friends, strictly platonic, catch-up dinner”.

As we navigate the dating scene there comes a point when the go/no-go decision becomes apparent. The question is – when it’s not a formal relationship what happens post no-go? Does a we’re not attracted to each other anymore switch go off that instantly makes your former potential beau become your new no-date Friday happy hour buddy? I think not.

Now there are obviously variants in this, and there are instances when a continuing friendship makes sense i.e. professional linkages or shared circle of friends. But in my opinion, if any sexual encounter is involved – you really should avoid the “friends” box.

Now don’t get up in arms on me! This is just one busy girl’s view. BUT part of this deals with how you describe this “friendship” to the person you meet that actually wants to commit with you. Those casual meet-ups will likely not be tolerated by the person who wants to be exclusive once they know the nature of that relationship – which they should. AND if the “friendship” is over once this happens, what was the point of it anyways? Friendship is not a consolation prize for a failed courtship.

The other items to be avoided are misplaced expectations on post-situationship friendships. If you’re on the wrong side of the coin…friendship can be an ill substitute for a relationship you wanted to happen. On the other end, if you dig the person but don’t see the potential for a match, prepare to be on the receiving end of scrutiny of your intentions upon each interaction (whether stated or not).

Rather than giving energy to this pseudo-friendship, turn your attention to your real friends (you know, the ones you haven’t had sex with) and clear room for the relationship that’s meant to come your way!

- Ciao!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

#ThrowbackThursday Deephouse, New Friends, and a serious roadtrip!

I haven't posted in forever, call me lazy *kanye shrug* or what have you, but a nudge from a friend reminded me that maybe people care what I have to say on this thing so I'll be doing a retro-post every Thursday:) I'll also be posting on tumblr to give me an out on days where my brain doesn't feel like constructing witty sentences for your perusal lol.

I journeyed to South Africa to participate in the United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Durban, a city on the eastern side of the South African coast home to Zulus, Xhosa, and descendants of both British and Dutch colonial rule. The city is also home to South Africa's largest Indian community, brought over as workers in the 1860's by the British.

Let me backtrack and say that the decision to head to UNCCC was last minute meaning all accommodation was close to booked, I arrived in Durban with what I thought was a confirmation only to learn that I had been duped. I ended up camping out with the lovely volunteers at the UNCCC helpdesk until an independent cottage owner decided that she would let me stay in her own PERSONAL home while I was there - yes you read that correctly - the traveling gods were with me! Not only did she agree to let me stay at her house on "the bluff", she and her hilarious husband even came to pick me up from the airport (for a small fee).

After my experience at the airport and a long first day, I was ready for some fun. Leaving the conference center and the melee of my fellow foreigners I stumbled upon a bar blasting what to me sounded like soulful techno music - low and behold I discovered DEEPHOUSE and have never looked back. Check out the fellas

I sat down, grabbed a Savannah (apple cider beer similar to Manger's in the UK or Woodchuck in the states). The ocean breeze was phenomenal! A group of firefighters, concerned for my safety as a solo female traveler - and also interested in a dance, introduced themselves and instantly became my Durban tour guides. We spent time on the beach, talked history, and ventured into the townships. They even took me to a salon as the Durban humidity was not kind to my natural tresses. I befriended my stylist ended up on Florida Rd., the SPOOOOOOOT in Durban.

On my final day, I opted for a tour with a company called "Street Scenes", these guys are covered in AWESOME-SAUCE! Please check them out for a true taste of Durban life and society. You can choose a tour to match your interest choose from a number of themes including "hipster" "green" "bachelor party" "beach" or my favorite the "shebeen shuffle" a taste of true African nightlife. I ended up hitting it off with my funny guy operator Sthembiso and hit up Florida Rd. once more before heading straight to the airport!

You'd think my week in Durban was enough but my trip to SA could not be complete w/o a visit to Johannesburg, affectionately referred to as Jozi. I met an amazing videographer on a previous trip to Nairobi who agreed to show me around Soweto. The experience, especially the Hector Pieterson Memorial, was both stunning and chilling at the same time. The similarities between the apartheid and civil rights movements are just another reminder of the need for the African Diaspora to unite - but I digress.

After hanging with the homie, I met up with my beautifully talented Zambian sister friend Cathy and dropped by the MTV Base offices (she runs the world lol). A few quick chats and I was off to meet a fellow member of the Nomadness Travel Tribe photographer extraordinaire Conner Varin also known as Stephanie. We hit the ground running at an ad agency party at the trendy #1 Bar where I was introduced to the fabulous Buhle - I won't detail the evenings events (we have to save something!) but needless to say, we found ourselves returning home in the wee hours of the morning. Enamored with my Tribe compatriot I agreed to a roadtrip the next morning, before realizing it was to another country!!! The road to Lesotho was supposed to be just 4 hours, however, the pimped out DJ van we traveled in with two of South Africa's hottest entertainers DJ Nutty Nys and Actor/Host/Artist Miza Mobedi, made the actual 8 HOURS bearable. Throw in Jameson and Appletini and you have an amazing weekend.

I literally cried leaving SA, the friends and memories there will last a lifetime. I'll be Skymile crunching to get back soon!